The Millennium eOne is a mid-sized electronic chess board specially designed for players who prefer to use a physical board over the tiny screen on their smartphone. The Millennium eOne pairs to your Apple or Google smartphone, allowing it to receive moves wirelessly from an installed chess app. Several LED lights illuminate the piece paths of your opponents move. This makes it easy to see what your opponent has played without having to check your phone .
All moves are played on the board – you do not need to interact with the smartphone unless you want to resign or offer/accept a draw. The phone always displays the current board position as well as the remaining time for both players. My friends at the Chess House sent me an eOne to evaluate. Below is my review of the product along with some first impressions and personal thoughts.
Note: The full manual for the Millennium eOne can be downloaded here.
Travel set or tournament board
When I first took the eOne out of its box, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I would see a full-sized chessboard with weighted, felt bottomed pieces. Instead, I got a 12″x12″ board with a drawstring bag filled with a unique set of chess pieces. For comparison, I put the eOne on top of a full-sized DGT Smartboard so you can see the size difference.
While not advertised as a travel set, the eOne is very portable. For those of you who travel, the eOne will be a dream come true. The board and drawstring bag fit easily into a small backpack or a carry-on suitcase. It’s nice to get outside sometimes and being able to take your board and set with you is a great selling point to this product.
Why would you want an eBoard paired to your phone? The answer is that real chess improvement happens over the board…. a physical board. Additionally, most players are more comfortable playing/analyzing their moves on a physical chess board.
Power and recharging
The board’s power button is just to the right and under the h4 square.
The Millennium eOne is rechargeable. There are no batteries required. It uses a USB-c cable which plugs into the board located on the opposite side of the power button. The cable connects to any standard USB port. The device takes a maximum of 4 hours to recharge, but this is only if the battery is fully depleted.
The Millennium eOne is made of black, durable plastic. This is not a pressure-sensitive board, meaning you do not have to first press down on a square of the piece you want to move before moving it. Just move the piece as you would on any chess board – the eOne senses movement and relays it to the smartphone.
The board’s ranks and files are clearly labeled in thin white-colored fonts. The LED lights are embedded on the four corners of each square. I say this to emphasize the fact that the LED’s are not visible unless they are lit up. The brightness of each LED is well lit and flashes in a manner that shows the direction of the piece to be moved. You can adjust the brightness of the LED’s by long pressing the bishop button for about 2 seconds.
Some eboards have raised LED’s that interfere with a players ability to see the board and calculate moves. Not the case here. The board is easy to see and can be used as an analysis board all on its own.
The Millennium eOne’s pieces are made of a glossy, impact-resistant plastic. Each base is weighted which helps to avoid accidentally knocking over an adjacent piece during a move or capture. The piece style is neither Staunton nor Drueke. The advertisements for the EOne call it a modern, clean, ergonomic style. Analyzing a complex position with these pieces feels as natural as it would be with any other chess set.
The pieces are all proportional to the playing board. Because this is a smaller board, you will not be able to fit four pawns neatly on a single square – that is FIDE’s way of determining if chess pieces are properly sized to fit on a regulation tournament board. Given its smaller size, the Millennium EOne is not subject to this measurement criteria.
There are a few buttons located at the base of the eOne. They are used to flip the board, dim the lights and let the user know if their Bluetooth connection is working properly. But each of these buttons has a role to play during pawn promotion too.
To promote a pawn to a queen, you simply move the pawn from the seventh to eighth rank and replace it with a queen.
Underpromotion is different and this is where those buttons come into play. To underpromote, lift the pawn and remove it from the board – then, press whichever button that represents the piece you want to underpromote to and then place the physical piece on that square. The Millennium eOne cannot recognize the type of piece you place on a square – that is why this step is needed.
Rapid or Classical only
The Millennium eOne is designed for rapid or classical time controls only.
Some people have asked me if it’s possible to play a blitz game on the eOne. Possible? Yes. Practical? No. Let’s remember that you have to play moves on behalf of your opponent. This is not a problem if you have a 10, 15 or 30 second increment, but anything faster would be a challenge for you to keep up with. Can you imagine playing out a time scramble in a 3 2 game where you are the one low on time? Let’s not even go there.
Playing on Chess.com or Lichess.org
You can play chess on many online chess platforms but for the purposes of time, I will only cover the two most popular playing sites.
Playing on Chess.com is by far the easiest platform to use. That’s because you use the smartphone app to play just as you would any other game. When you choose new game, you will see an option to use the Millennium eOne board. Once you select that, choose the time control and click Play.
That’s it. You can start playing on the eOne and use your phone to keep an eye on the clock.
The default Lichess Android/iPhone app will not work on its own. There are two steps you will need to take. First, you will need to download the ChessLink software (Apple or Android). Second, you will need to follow some instructions on creating an API Access Token. Enter the token into the ChessLink app and you will be ready to start playing. You will see a prompt asking if you want to login. After that you will see the New Game button which will get you started seeking an opponent.
The Chesslink app provides some musical tunes and a dramatic round of applause when you checkmate your opponent (click below).
I wanted to take some time to express just how easy the Millennium eOne is to setup and use. The QuickStart guide is all you need to get going. Configuring the Bluetooth connection might be considered a technical challenge for some but surely anyone who owns a smartphone has paired a Bluetooth device before. If not, the QuickStart guide has instructions to help you get started there too.
The Millennium eOne is a great product. It makes playing over-the-board chess with your smartphone fun and easy. The eOne is small enough that you can take it with wherever you go. It fits neatly in a backpack or on a piece of carryon luggage.
Millennium has built just the right eboard for mainstream consumer chess players. It appeals to people who want to connect with Internet opponents via their phone but play out their games on a physical board.
For only $249, the Millennium eOne is an important investment for players looking to take their game to the next level. It comes with my highest recommendation.
You can purchase one from the Chess House here.